Image of the week: AI arms race
As corporate identifiers go, the OpenAI logo, seen here carved into the reception desk of its San Francisco headquarters, is on the classy side. But while its offices might seem tastefully nondescript, artificial intelligence experts have grown increasingly concerned by the less innocuous aspects of what they call a “dangerous” AI arms race.
Their warnings – prompted by the release of OpenAI’s ChatGPT and GPT-4 – this week took the form of an open letter published by a non-profit campaign group called the Future of Life Institute. It was signed by more than 1,100 tech researchers, executives and investors, including Elon Musk, the co-founders of Apple, Pinterest and Skype and employees of Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Meta and Alphabet-owned DeepMind.
“Recent months have seen AI labs locked in an out-of-control race to develop and deploy ever more powerful minds that no one – not even their creators – can understand, predict or reliably control,” the (human-written) letter stated.
[ ‘ChatGPT dropped like a bomb’: AI chatbot rocked universities. Now, some are rushing to embrace it ]
The signatories went on to call on all AI labs to “immediately pause for at least six months the training of AI systems more powerful than GPT-4″ and for governments to step in if they don’t.
“AI systems with human-competitive intelligence can pose profound risks to society and humanity,” the letter continued.
And we’ve got enough of those already, thanks.
In numbers: Retreat from Russia
“Voluntary” donations to the Russian state paid by some Western companies, amounting to 10 per cent of the value of their sold Russian assets, as they exited the country since its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Number of foreign companies, out of a total of 1,400 monitored by the Kyiv-based KSE Institute, that have fully sold their Russian divisions. Some have simply decided to stay, others have been tied up in a torturous withdrawal process.
Months since Russia’s assault on Ukraine escalated into all-out war. The foreign companies that were slow to exit sanctions-hit Russia now face a mandatory donation to the state if they leave. Costly all round.
Getting to know: Pablo Xavier
In unexpected fashion news from the Vatican, Pope Francis was last weekend spotted owning the streets in a pristine white puffer jacket – except, of course, he wasn’t. He was on the cusp of becoming unwell enough to be hospitalised.
The fake “Balenciaga Pope” photographs, which many social media users assumed was real after it went viral, was in fact generated using an artificial intelligence tool called Midjourney. Its creator, a construction worker named Pablo Xavier (31) from the Chicago area, later told BuzzFeed he had been tripping on mushrooms when the idea for the image came to him.
“I try to do funny stuff or trippy art – psychedelic stuff. It just dawned on me: I should do the Pope,” he said.
[ Can you tell a real face from an AI-generated one? ]
The papal puffer images were initially posted to a Facebook group called AI Art Universe, then Reddit, before they were shared around the internet devoid of this original context, blowing up in a way Xavier hadn’t intended, and raising a serious point about how difficult it is to identify art, satire and misinformation in an AI-powered world.
“I thought the Pope’s puffer jacket was real and didn’t give it a second thought,” tweeted American celebrity Chrissy Teigen. “No way am I surviving the future of technology.”
Relatable, Chrissy. All too relatable.
The list: New Apple emojis
Apple’s latest update on its operating system, iOS 16.4, brings with it the small pleasure of new emojis. So forget everything you’ve read about Gen-Z not bothering with emojis and viewing older generations’ self-conscious use of them with disdain, and consider embracing this lot.
1. Plain pink heart: The pink heart is officially the “long-awaited pink heart”. Apple users previously had to suffice with little pink hearts or ones that were augmented in some way, but the people have spoken and the Unicode Consortium, which decides on these things, has listened.
2. Jellyfish: Officially, God loves all creatures great and small, but even he is said to be lukewarm on jellyfish.
3. Shaking face: This means “I’m shook”, which is internet sarcasm for “I’m completely unsurprised by this development”.
4. Maracas: Staying on a shaking theme, what message or social media post would not be improved by sticking a random pair of maracas on at the end?
[ Chatbots, emojis and GIFs: how companies should communicate with customers ]
5. Pushing hand emojis: One right, one left. These two can be combined into a high five or deployed in isolation as shorthand for “stop right now, thank you very much”.